Late summer through fall is a wonderful time to be outdoors. The weather is cooler, the leaves are changing color, and in a few months, a few of us might even hibernate for the winter. One of my favorite activities during this time is volunteering to do seed collecting. It’s an easy activity, something you can do on your own or together with some family or friends, and it is an excellent way to learn about our natural areas.
Restoration projects rely on volunteers to collect native seeds. Seeds are an inexpensive way to grow native plants in natural areas and at home (provided you like a natural style landscape). Seeds also help maintain genetic diversity, which is important since diverse species adapt better to environmental changes and stresses. The website below list many restoration projects that need help with seed collecting. Just check their dates and volunteer requirements.
There is a neat program www.nativeseedgardeners.org that gives gardeners rare native plant seeds to grow in their yards, then ask them to return the seeds their plants produce for use in restoration projects. Another program called "Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Bank" at the Chicago Botanic Garden preserves live native seeds for a seed bank. Volunteers are needed to help clean and prepare seeds for this seed bank. Several local chapters of Wild Ones host a native seed exchange/swap event in fall for native plant gardeners.
We have many beautiful habitats and each has its own unique attributes and special qualities. These habitats are best appreciated and understood through hands-on experiences, like seed collecting. Denise Sandoval